Florida issues state of emergency due to fires

By Mallory McBride
Correspondent

More than 115 wildfires burned in parts of Southwest and Central Florida as of Saturday, April 22, according to CNN.

The fires, which have “already burned 250 percent more acreage in the first three months of 2017 than during the same period of time last year,” prompted Florida Governor Rick Scott to issue a state of emergency on April 11, according to the Governor’s official website.

“Wildfires are burning more than 20,000 acres in Florida right now, and we haven’t seen this active of a season since 2011,” Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam said, according to Scott’s website.

ABC reported that one blaze in Collier County, near Naples, has destroyed nine homes and has wreaked havoc over 5,500 acres of land, according to the Collier County Sheriff’s Office.

UH-60 Blackhawk helicopter in flight
Scott reserved one UH-60 Blackhawk like the helicopter pictured above for fire fighting. (Flickr)

Governor Scott’s office noted that mandatory evacuations were in effect in Collier County, where 20 percent of the wildfire was contained as of April 23, ABC reported.

Additionally, thirteen homes in Lee County, also in Southwest Florida, have been destroyed by a 400-acre wildfire, CNN reported.

The wildfires have not been contained to Southwest Florida, however. CNN reported that wildfires ravaged through Polk County in Central Florida, as well.

According to Governor Scott, 60 percent of a 700-acre wildfire in Polk County was contained as of April 22, CNN reported.

The Polk County Fire Rescue said, in a Facebook post, that “several structures are on fire. Fire crews need residents to leave the area so firefighters can protect structures.”

While the wildfire is still under investigation, authorities suspect that the initial Polk County blaze could be a result of arson, according to ABC.

The dry and breezy weather of south Florida makes it easier for such wildfires to thrive, according to Broward County Florida’s daily newspaper, the Sun Sentinel.

Luckily, scattered showers in Southwest Florida have helped firefighters tame the blaze, CNN reported.

Director of Collier County Bureau of Emergency Services Dan Summers said that, while the rain is helping the situation, it “doesn’t mean we’re in the clear. It takes an awful lot of water to put a fire out this big, ” according to CNN.

As of Wednesday, April 26, the Florida wildfires continued to pose as a threat.

As for now, Governor Scott is “encouraged to see (the) entire state working together to help one another,” according to CNN.